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All aboard the Roseville float

By: Susan Belknap
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PASADENA-Have you ever wondered who drives the Rose Parade floats? Today I not only met the driver of our Roseville float, but also had the chance to sit in the spot where he will be Thursday morning when the parade begins. The most fascinating thing he told me was that he cannot see anything as he maneuvers the 55-foot Roseville float out of the float barn into the street and onto the parade route. But I feel confident that Brian Porter, our driver, will do a fine job for Roseville. When he’s not driving Rose Parade floats Brian is a professional truck driver. As I sat in the tight driver's quarters Brian explained to me that he completely depends on someone who sits toward the front (called the observer) of the float to tell him how fast to go and where to turn right or left. The driver of our float sits with his legs straight in front with a small steering wheel and brake for the controls. The highest speed a float can go, according to Brian, is about 25 mph. During the parade route the speed is more like 2-5 mph. This morning Brian had quite a challenge to get our float out of the barn. It seems the tree, which is located at the back of the float was a bit too high. After about five attempts and the only casualties being a few broken branches, we made it. Now that the Roseville float is officially complete and safely out of the decorating barn, a second round of judging began this afternoon. The judging included three official-looking people scrutinizing our entire float for about five minutes. During the judging the float riders were in place, the train whistle blew and the music was blaring. The announcement of float winners will be at 6 a.m. Thursday morning. This afternoon the crowds were still quite heavy throughout the float staging area with sounds of “ooohs” and “ahhs” being uttered everywhere as visitors examined the floats and all the special effects. Since we were told to be ready to leave our hotel before 5 a.m. to get to our grandstand viewing area, I don't think we'll be ringing in the New Year at midnight tonight. So, goodnight Roseville and Happy New Year!